Jehovah`s Witness/Spritual Israel vs National Israel

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Question
Mt Hepburn there has been a discussion going on back and forth here about the nation of Israel.  Can you please give me your take on if the nation of Israel is important in today's world events, why you do not see Romans 11 as applying to Israel and why JWS speak of a spiritual Israel

Thank You

Answer
Hello Gordon, Thank you for allowing me to respond to your question.

Our understanding  of a “spiritual Israel comes from Galatians 6 :15,16 which reads according to the AJKV “ 15  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. 16  And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

There are several things here. The Jews believed in circumcision of the flesh.  This was a problem in the 1st century for Christians as the Jews were adamant that the Gentile Christians be circumcised. This dispute went on for some time.  It was eventually solved and the decision was hat to be a Christian one did not have to be circumcises in the flesh.

In writing to the Romans Paul redefines what a Jew is. Lets look at what Paul had to say. Again this is from the AKJ Bible and unless I say otherwise all texts will be from that version Romans 2:25-29 “25  For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision. 26  Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27  And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 28  For he is not a Jew , which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29  But he is a Jew , which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart , in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

Remember Jesus words not long before he finished his earthly ministry Matthew relates this for us in chapter 23: 37  “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”

Here is how some other Bibles render verse 38
“Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU” (NWT)
“See, your house is made waste.”   (BBE)
“ Lo, is left to you the house of you a desert.” (Diaglot)
“ And so your Temple will be abandoned and empty.” (GNGE)

The thought being there that the Jews who thought they were Gods People with the houese of God (the Temple) in their midsts would be abandoned by God.

Some one might ask ' But did not God make a promise to Abraham as per Genesis 15:13-16' as well as other promises for the nation of Israel.?  Does not Isaiah 55:11 prove that his promises will be carried out? ( “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”)

Yes you are absolutely correct.  But are you aware of the proviso God put on his promise ?  YES God did put a  proviso on his various promises.

Exodus 19:5  “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:”

Ex 23:22  “But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.

See also Ex 24:7 ; De 11:27; De 28:1; Jos 24:24; 1Sa 15:22; Isa 1:19;  Jer 7:23  Jer 11:4; Jer 11:5;  Jer 11:6;  Jer 11:7;   And the list can go on.  If you read those texts we see that Jehovah continually pleads with his people to obey him.  Time and again they reject him.  It shows Gods willingness to forgive but his forgiveness is not endless.  It still come back to 'You will be my people IF YOU OBEY ME ”  Jesus was the last chance for the NATION as a people to be called Gods Own.

When the circumcisions issue was being discussed in Jerusalem note what else was talked about. Luke record in Chapter 15:12-14 “ 12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13  And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14  Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name .”

Remember this is after Jesus said what is recorded in Matt. 23:37,38  (see above) and what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 21: 43 “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”  That nation is the one mentioned in Acts 15;  Romans 2; Galatians 3;



You asked about Romans 11 and you suggest that shows Israel was not cut of.  Would you agree that ALL the Bible is important not just a few verses? (2 Timothy 3:16 “ All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”)  That is why it is important to look at the Bible as a whole not at just isolated texts

Turn back to Romans 9:22-25, 27  “22 and keep it in mind  “What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: 23  And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,24 Even us , whom he hath called, not of the Jews only , but also of the Gentiles ?  …. 27  Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved : ”

Romans 11:1 tells us that God did not cast of  the Israelites ” I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite , of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.”   Paul is writing to Christians in Rome, some Jews others Gentiles. He gives a brief history of God showing mercy to the Israelites over a period of time. Paul draws a comparison between what happened in the past and the present time of his writing. Note verse 5 “ Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”  Do you see the comparison. In the past when judgement was brought against Israel there was always a remnant that were spared. At that time there was a remnant of Israelites that were spared because they had chosen to follow the Christ and not reject him as the nation did as a whole”

Further along in chapter 11 Paul uses the illustration of pruning an olive tree and grafting in from a wild olive.  The wild olive is the non Jews that have now come into favour with God by accepting the ransom sacrifice of Jesus.

To fully appreciate what Paul was saying in Romans 11 we should keep in mind Romans 2:25-29 (quoted above) Romans 9:6-9 “6  Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. 8  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God : but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”  and Romans 9::22-25, 27 (quoted above)




It is not just JWs that believe in a “spiritual Israel” I would like to show some comments from non JWs commentaries in regard to Galatians 6:16 and the phrase “the Israel of God”

START QUOTES
Calvin's Commentary
Circumcision was a disguise before men, but regeneration is a truth before God. In a word, he gives the appellation of the Israel of God to those whom he formerly denominated the children of Abraham by faith, ( #Ga 3:29), and thus includes all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, who were united into one church. On the contrary, the name and lineage are the sole boast of Israel according to the flesh; and this led the apostle to argue in the Epistle to the Romans, that "they are not all Israel which are of Israel , neither because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children." (#Ro 9:6 7). (Italics original  bold mine)    

QUOTES
Clarke's Commentary
The Israel of God . The true Christians , called here the Israel of God , to distinguish them from Israel according to the flesh . " (Italics original)

John Gill Expositor Commentary
and upon the Israel of God; which is a further description of the persons, for whom he prays for these blessings; and is not to be understood by way of distinction from them, but as an amplification of their character; and as pointing out the Israel, by way of emphasis, the Israel, or Israelites indeed, the spiritual Israel, as distinct from Israel according to the flesh ; see #1Co 10:18. The "Israel of God," or as the Arabic version reads it, "Israel the propriety of God"; which he has a right unto, and a claim upon; who are chosen by him, Israel his elect; who are redeemed by him, out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation ; who are called by his grace, and are styled Israel his called; who are justified in his Son, and by his righteousness; and for whose sake he is exalted as a Prince and a Saviour, to give them repentance and remission of sin; and who are, or will be saved by him, with an everlasting salvation; and is a name that includes all God’s elect, whether Jews or Gentiles: though it may have a particular respect to such of the Israelites, or Jews, God had foreknown and reserved for himself; and who believed in Christ, and walked as new creatures, without confidence in the flesh. The Jews themselves own, that strangers, or proselytes, shall be called by the name of Israel ; so they {b} explain #Isa 44:5, latter part.  (bold mine)
End Quotes

Paul ads weight to the idea of a spiritual nation of Israel in his letter to the Galatians 4: 22-26   He uses the account of Abraham, his wife Sarah and his maid servant as comparisons to this new Jerusalem   ” 22  For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23  But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 24  Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. 25  For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. 26  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.'

This Jerusalem above is a spiritual dwelling for the throne of God. Jerusalem in the past was seen as the seat of government for the Jew.  Salomon was seated on Gods throne here. (1 Chron. 28:5”.. he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.”
end quotes

Pauls letter to the Hebrews tells us that this Jerusalem is heavenly “22  But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem , and to an innumerable company of angels,”

To sum up. Earthly Jerusalem and the nation AS A WHOLE (not as individuals because many Jews followed the Christ then and now i.e. a remnant of fleshly Israel) were rejected by God because the continually disobeyed him ad a new nation was grafted onto the promise to Abraham , a spiritual nation made of of people circumcised in the heart  (spiritually speaking) from all national groups become Gods chosen ones.

With that said our view is that the Nation of Israel as it exists today plays no part in modern Biblical prophecy.  All prophecies relating to Israel that have not been fulfilled apply to the spiritual nation of Israel.

It would be up to those on the board that fill otherwise to put their case to you in a clear manner than you can decide fore yourself which understanding best fits the Bibles.  

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Brenton Hepburn

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I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .

Experience

I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

Education/Credentials
I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

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